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Stewards of our planet

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As the world grows smaller, environmental sustainability and ethical business practices have become a linchpin of many a company’s mission statements—both because it’s the right thing to do and because end users, as well as others along the production channel, are insisting on good practices.

“Coats strives to minimize our impact on the environment and to create the best possible working environments,” says Coats North America’s Challenger.

At Gore, “We meet—and go beyond—all emission standards. We’re very cautious, trying to anticipate effects,” says Shaw. “We’re ISO-certified so we meet requirements in how you run your plant, do your testing,” reports Fil-Tec’s Graves. “And as the world grows smaller, we’re turning that attention to sourcing. We’ve found that our customers require certification regarding environmental standards and child labor laws. We’ve invested in equipment to foster recycling and meet emission requirements.”

Hatton of A&E cites his company as a sustainability leader, “initiating this many, many years ago before it became a buzzword. We were one of the first to adopt a global standard of measurement, using critical data to scrutinize engineering protocol, equipment specs and emerging technology regarding greenhouse emission reduction,” he says. “Our mantra is, it’s simply the right thing.

“The first thing we did was to make clear that A&E will keep the same standards as in the U.S., not exploit. We won an award from China for our waste water treatment there.”

In 2005, the company set eco standards for itself, called Ten Threads of Sustainability, on issues such as greenhouse gas, emissions, water purity and packaging. “Everyone here can tell you that our Global Code of Conduct program is fundamental to our business—how to treat people and the environment.”

Evidence that they walk the talk: A&E reports a nine percent reduction in greenhouse gases over the past six years; a 16.8 percent improvement in water conservation; reduction of electricity consumption of 2.1 percent since 2006; and 97 percent zero waste in packaging.

“Transparency means knowing what your suppliers are doing, their buying strategy, their ethical practices,” says Hatton. “We stress this to our customers and it is ingrained in all our dealings. We’ll keep publishing reports, results. We’ve been in business 122 years, and want to stay around another 122 years.”

Carla Waldemar is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, Minn.

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